Through October 9 |
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT Daemen University/MusicalFare Theatre
By Augustine Warner
Opening shows of the theater season are fascinating, since they can set the tone for an individual company’s season and because there is more time than usual for rehearsal and there may be access to performers who aren’t available during much of the upcoming year.
The company could put additional resources into a show, as the Kavinoky Theatre has clearly done with “Rock of Ages.”
It’s also true for MusicalFare’s wonderful production of “Nice Work If You Can Get it.”
It’s actually something of a juke box musical, with the material coming from George and Ira Gershwin, both long dead.
While the show was only put together a few years ago, it’s out of a golden tradition of the Broadway stage: a rich bonehead male lead, gangsters, Prohibition, bozo politician and all of the atmosphere of New York City in the Twenties.
Director Chris Kelly has two great performers to use as his leads, Marc Sacco and Renee Landrigan, with her moving away from the ingenue roles she has done so often.
Kelly also had some really strong subsidiary leads, Charmagne Chi (Duchess Estonia Dulworth), Bobby Cooke (Chief Berry), John Kaczorowski Cookie McGee) and Nicole Cimato (Jeannie Muldoon).
It all starts with a mysterious bootlegger king.
One of the team leaders is Billie Bendix (Landrigan).
She has a shipload of “hooch” and the feds are on the hunt.
Then there’s playboy Jimmy Winter (Sacco) partying because he’s marrying (yet again) in the morning, accompanied by his usual young and nubile party companions.
Billie meets Jimmy and they make a connection because he has a Long Island Gold Coast estate which isn’t used.
That’s where the fun takes place, after Billie and her crew go there to stash their booze.
It’s all funny and tangled and very musical.
It’s all accompanied by the Gershwin’s many classics like “Nice Work If You Can Get It” (Jimmy and Billie), “Someone to Watch Over Me” (Billie), “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” (Jimmy, Billie and Chief Berry), “Fascinating Rhythm” (Jimmy, Cookie and the Company), “But Not for Me” (Billie) and “I’ve Got A Crush on You” (Eileen, chorus girls and the Vice Squad).
While the story is mainly a romance of some questionable people, it’s also a comedy.
Key to that is Kaczorowski’s Cookie, the bootlegger faking it as the butler in the mansion in F. Scott Fitzgerald country.
He’s wonderful, just as Chi is as the widowed aunt of Eileen, Jimmy’s about-to-be wife.
It’s tangled and complicated and funny, held together by Gershwin music and some wonderful choreography by Kristy E. Cavanagh.
There’s a lot of good tap, so common in the period being satirized in this show, Cookie, Billie and Jimmy.
It’s extremely early in the season but “Nice Work If You Can Get It” is the leading entry in the season-long competition for best in show.
Absolutely see it.
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